“I cannot believe that there are more complaints for timeshare fraud than there are for the next four categories combined,” said Lisa Epstein, founder of foreclosurehamlet.org


“Lobbying pays,” said Epstein, referencing a 2008 study by Frank Yu of Barclays Global Investors that found a direct link between corporate campaign contributions and a reduction in fraud investigations. “Money and politics is a good mix for the corporations and the financial sector and really bad for the consumers that elect legislators to represent them.”


Crackdown on Florida timeshare fraud causes rift

Attorney General Pam Bondi is backing a bill to cut down on timeshare fraud, even as she faces criticism over political donations and her role in investigating other types of fraud.

TALLAHASSEE — Despite Florida’s struggles with Medicare fraud, foreclosure “robo-signing” and prescription drug “pill mills,” the attorney general’s top legislative priority is to clean up timeshare resale fraud.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says timeshare resale fraud is by far the top consumer complaint her office has received in the past two years. With more than 19,000 complaints since 2009, timeshare resales fraud outnumbers the next four categories combined. To tackle the growing problem, Bondi teamed up this month with two Republican lawmakers to sponsor the Timeshare Resale Accountability Act.

At the same time, one of the Republican party’s top donors during the third quarter is the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), a Washington-based timeshare trade group that has more than doubled its giving this year to $281,787 (up from $135,000 in the first three quarters of 2010). That group has explicitly stated that its legislative priority this year is to see that bill passed.

“That’s probably turned into our No. 1 issue,” said Jason Gamel, vice president of state government affairs for ARDA’s Florida office. “It was pleasant to see the attorney general look at those issues and try to clean things up.”

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